Ah, the end of summer in Virginia—there’s nothing like it! From the pony-trodden strand of Chincoteague Island and the world-famous sands of Virginia Beach to the tidewater riverbanks of the Potomac and the James, now’s an amazing time to be soaking up some sunshine and taking a few dips along Virginia’s beautiful shore.
And you can’t spend too much time sunbathing or strolling the docks without working up a major hankering for some fresh Virginia seafood—some of the finest in the nation, bar none. No beach vacation in the Commonwealth is complete without its spectacular underwater bounty!
In Chesapeake Bay, Virginia boasts what may be the most biologically productive estuary on the planet. Fed by better than 150 different rivers and creeks, this huge waterway supports an astonishing multitude of life, from all manner of shellfish and finfish to bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales (and even the odd Florida manatee!).
And, of course, the Bay’s also the longtime stomping ground of the hardworking watermen who, in their pursuit of blue crabs, oysters, striped bass, and other quarry—and in their intimate knowledge of the Bay and its moods—carry on traditions dating back to Colonial times.
Late summer’s a great time to be sampling the yield of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic—and not just because you can combine seafood feasts with beach going. There’s a lot of delicious seafood in season right now, from blue crabs (and the tail-end of the soft-shell crab harvest) to croakers and striped bass—not to mention, of course, Virginia oysters, a year-round delicacy.
The Oyster Trail
Speaking of those mighty molluscs, Virginia’s the Oyster Capital of the East Coast, and produces more farm-raised oysters than anywhere else in the U.S. Just last year, the state declared an official Virginia Oyster Trail for touring the state’s eight oyster regions: the Seaside to the Upper Bay Western Shore and everywhere in between.
From melt-in-your-mouth buttery to a cascade of briny goodness, the oysters of each region offer their own distinct flavors: Filter-feeders as they are, these bivalves express the specific conditions of their environment to a beautiful degree. Those nuances of place as revealed in the flavor of an oyster are merroir (as in a wine’s terroir).
It’s hard to think of a better way to spend one last summer getaway than wandering (and taste-testing) along the Oyster Trail!
Virginia Seafood Companies
Make sure you’re enjoying a local, sea-kissed tang on your Virginia beach vacation by paying a visit to some of the state’s outstanding seafood companies.
Take the Rappahannock Oyster Company, whose proprietors carry on a family oysterman tradition dating back to 1899. The company’s offerings—from its tried-and-true sweetwater Rappahannock River oysters to the Olde Salt oysters of Chincoteague waters—provide a wonderful lesson in merroir.
Or how about the Anderson’s Neck Oyster Company, which tempts with delicious Eagle Flats oysters farmed in the storied waters of the York River. Dedicated to sustainable aquaculture, Anderson’s Neck Oyster Company also funnels some of its proceeds directly to ecological restoration efforts in Chesapeake Bay. (And hey, they brew their own beer, too!)
Whether it’s the intricacies of oyster merroir or a heapful of blue crabs, now’s the time to get out there and revel in the world of Virginia seafood—and, of course, work in some hard-core beach time, too!